POPULAR outdoors YouTuber Greg Ovens has been hit with a $6,000 fine after one of his videos was used as evidence of illegal fishing in a Canadian national park.
An arrest warrant has been issued for his co-host Zach Fowler for his part in catching and eating recently re-introduced ‘cutthroat trout’ in Alberta’s Banff national park
A judge branded the pair’s actions in the 2019 video as ‘reckless’.
Ovens and Fowler met on the TV show Alone – a US survival series on the History Channel – but reunited to make their own film on a 30-day survival challenge in the Canadian Rockies.
With three-quarters of a million subscribers to Owens Rocky Mountain Bushcraft YouTube channel, the video in question has attracted 400,000 views. However, one viewer alerted the Canadian authorities when the skilled bushcrafter hauls a three-pound fish from a fast-moving river and presents it to the camera declaring “that’s a nice cutty!”. He then impales the fish on a carrying stick before adding to the catch.
While trout fishing in the wilderness is a popular and perfectly legal pastime in Canada, the removal of cutthroat trout – considered a threatened species – from national park waters is against the law.
Ovens faced six charges – including unlicensed hunting and discharging a firearm in a national park – but five were withdrawn when the British Columbia native pleaded guilty to illegal fishing and agreed to a $6,000 fine.
An arrest warrant has been issued for US citizen Fowler who faces similar charges.
Ovens maintained the two men possessed fishing licenses, but said they were unaware of a strict ‘catch and release’ policy at Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
Prosecuting, Justice Eric Tolppanen said the use of earthworms as live bait had been an ‘aggravating factor’ in pursuing a legal case.
“This type of bait is prohibited as it risks the introduction to lakes of invasive species, including the microscopic parasite that causes whirling disease,” Mr Tolppanen said as he gave Ovens credit for an early guilty plea.